Richmond International Raceway could not have arrived on the Sprint Cup schedule at a more opportune time for Kyle Busch.
Busch has won the past three Sprint Cup “spring” races at RIR, site of Saturday night’s newly named Capital City 400.
Busch is having a very un-Busch-like season.
Through eight races, he has no wins and only one top five, and, perhaps most surprisingly, generally has not been near the front jousting with other contenders.
This is not the Kyle Busch the NASCAR world has come to expect.
But Busch has a string of success at Richmond, having finished no worse than sixth in the past seven Cup races at the track.
“We haven’t had the runs that we are looking for quite yet,” Busch said. “I’ve been missing a little bit of comfort in our cars this year, but I feel like we’re slowly gaining it back. I look for a certain feel in the car, and we just haven’t quite hit on it, yet. We’ve kept working at making that better.
“We’ve been working hard at gaining some spots in the points. We’ve got some really good race tracks for us coming up with places like Richmond this weekend, Charlotte, and Dover, so I feel confident in the progress that Dave and I have made and feel like we have some good runs in us coming up. We’ve come out early in the season and won races before, but we want to first get ourselves in the Chase, and hit our stride so we’re our strongest at the end of the year.”
Busch is 13th in Sprint Cup points and has been in the top 10 in the standings only once this year. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammates are ahead of him – Denny Hamlin in fifth and Joey Logano in 12th.
Richmond could cure some of Busch’s ills.
“I’m not sure exactly what it is about Richmond that fits my style,” he said. “When I first went there in the trucks, I was terrible. And then they repaved the place, and I went there in a Nationwide car with Hendrick Motorsports and pulled off a win right away.
“It’s been a good track for me ever since then with both the Nationwide and the Cup Series, and I have just taken a liking to it. You have to be so technical there. The speeds are really high, but yet it’s a short track. You really have to be on top of your game to be sure the car stays under you.”
Busch said he and Hamlin race similar setups at RIR, a circumstance that boosts both drivers.
“We do like similar setups there, unlike other mile-and-a-half tracks or two-mile tracks where we don’t run very similar setups,” Busch said. “Richmond is one of those places where we both know what it takes to get around, and we’re both similar to one another that we both run well.”
Sprint Cup activities are scheduled to begin at RIR Friday with a practice at noon. The session, as well as another at 2:45 p.m. and qualifying at 5:30 p.m., will be televised by SPEED as part of its Fast Friday programming.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.